Last week, my seven-year-old daughter seemed troubled.
“Mummy, why are you the only mummy on the street with fur sticking out of your arms?” she said.
She was looking at my armpits in a hurt, disgusted way, as if I had Tufty the Squirrel in a headlock.
I was too knackered to explain to her that contrary to public opinion, all sexually mature women grow hair on their bodies, and that many of them have more hair growing from their armpits and minges than Sasquatch. I was also too knackered to explain to her that the pressure on women to shave, pluck, tweeze, wax, and zap every single hair on their body until they look like pre-pubescent girls is just sinister sexist bullshit dreamed up in the 1920s by those absolute motherfuckers at Gilllete. But the main reason I didn’t challenge her was that I’m sensitive enough to realise that to a small hairless child, a thousand colossal tufts of armpit hair probably looks like the kind of place where witches meet.
“I’ll shave it off if it bothers you”, is all I said.
That night, I wiped the dust from my razor blade and began the process of revealing my inner
child goddess. I fantasised about the prospect of
social inclusion; about a future featuring Summer Essentials like strappy tops and pretty Boden dresses, cute bikinis and spray tans. I indulged
the idea that my legs might even resemble the rock star pins of Gillette’s new 'global
ambassador' for female empowerment (and the undisputed universal role model for
all women) Jennifer Lopez. Obviously.
Afterwards, there was a brief bummer of a moment when I got pissed off thinking that my daughters might turn around when they’re eleven and demand that I buy them gigantic tubes of Veet, just so that they can depilate themselves ‘back to normal’ and so avoid a) being called gorilla or monkey trousers on the school bus or b) being chased around by people carrying nets and animal tranquilisers. I got even more pissed off at the idea that when they’re battling with issues around self-image and self-confidence, they’ll also have to contend with a whole load of creepy fascist shit about body hair. But that’s because I’m a total sourpuss and a hairy man-hating lesbo feminist, and I like to suck the fun out of life.
The following day, I showed my daughter my fuzz-free pits. I thought she’d be happy. Instead, she looked down at her own arms.
“I’ve don’t like the hair on my arms”, she said. “It’s too brown.”
Make that seven, not eleven.